BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Recent reports that hackers may have targeted nuclear power plants and other energy facilities across the country has prompted Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, to request an update on efforts to combat cyber-attacks.
The New York Times reported recently that hackers have been penetrating the computer networks that operate certain energy facilities.
Among them, according to the Times report, a nuclear power plant in Kansas.
U.S. officials say the intrusions were “limited to administrative and business networks,” and insist there is “no indication of a threat to public safety” or to plant operations.
Schumer, who’s the Minority Leader in the Senate, says this should serve as a wakeup call.
“Whether we want to admit it or not, our country’s critical infrastructure is under attack and vulnerable to hackers, and these reported attacks, unfortunately, may just be the tip of the iceberg,” Schumer said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
Schumer says more needs to be done to protect upstate facilities like the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston.
“Can you imagine if a hacker was able to remotely gain access to our upstate power plants?”
“They’d have the power to impact our cities by causing statewide blackouts or potentially compromising glitches with just a keystroke or a click of the mouse,” he added.
The New York Democrat is calling on the departments of Homeland Security and Energy to provide a status update on efforts to assess the resilience of critical infrastructure networks.
“The bottom-line is our nation’s infrastructure is far too vulnerable to hackers, and we have to armor ourselves against this growing threat,” Schumer said.
The New York Power Authority released a statement saying that “preempting cyber-attacks and protecting our cyber security infrastructure is, and always has been, given the highest priority.”
“We are always closely monitoring the cyber security infrastructure at all our power plants and are constantly making the necessary investments and using the most advanced security analysis in the industry to ensure every facility remains fully protected,” NYPA said in the statement.
Schumer says it’s critical that Congress invests more funding to guard against cyber-attacks.